Running a travel and tourism business comes with its fair share of challenges, and one of the most significant hurdles is dealing with seasonality. The demand for travel and tourism can fluctuate greatly throughout the year, posing difficulties for businesses trying to maintain a steady stream of bookings and revenue. In this blog, we will explore some effective marketing strategies to address seasonality and maintain a successful business.
Understand When Your High, Low, and Shoulder Seasons Occur
To effectively address seasonality, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of when your high, low, and shoulder seasons occur:
- High Season: This is the period when demand and prices are at their peak. Look at your previous years’ trends to identify the specific months or weeks when your destination experiences an influx of visitors.
- Shoulder Season: This period falls between the high and low seasons, characterized by moderate demand. This can be an opportunity to attract visitors who prefer quieter periods or more affordable prices.
- Low Season: This refers to the periods when visitor numbers are significantly lower, leading to reduced revenue. This can be an opportunity to explore more diverse marketing channels and strategies.
Once you understand exactly when seasonality shifts for your business occur, you’ll need to develop marketing strategies that address each period.
Marketing Strategies for High Season Demand
Just because your business reliably drives bookings during a particular season, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a peak season marketing strategy in place to address the influx in demand. Some high season strategies you may want to consider implementing include:
Leverage Google Ads Seasonality Adjustments
If you are running Google Ads campaigns, we recommend leveraging their Seasonality Adjustments tool which is used to inform Smart Bidding (i.e., the algorithm) of expected changes in conversion rates for future events like promotions or sales so it can then bid more efficiently. It’s important to note however that this tool is meant to be used for short events of 1-7 days rather than general seasonal shifts or events lasting longer than 14 days. During high season, we recommend using this tool when your business expects to see short bursts in leads/sales, such as around the holidays.
Acquire More Online Reviews
An influx of customers and bookings means there is more opportunity to acquire online reviews. Positive reviews and ratings serve as social proof and influence potential customers’ decision-making process. Encourage your high season guests to leave reviews by providing exceptional customer service, exceeding expectations, and engaging with them throughout their journey.
We also recommend implementing a post-transaction email campaign requesting feedback and directing satisfied guests to leave reviews on popular review platforms such as TripAdvisor or Google Business Profile. Ensure that you are engaging with reviewers by responding promptly and professionally to their feedback and addressing any concerns or issues raised.
By actively seeking and leveraging online reviews, travel and tourism operators can build a strong online reputation, improve search engine visibility, and attract more customers during the high season and beyond.
Marketing Strategies for Shoulder Seasons
When bookings start to taper off, some marketing strategies you could leverage include:
Create Shoulder Season Packages and Promotions
Create shoulder season packages and promotions based on past customer analysis. By analyzing past customer booking patterns during shoulder seasons, travel and tourism operators can identify trends and preferences that can inform the development of targeted value-added packages and promotions. This strategy ensures that the offerings are tailored to the specific interests and needs of the audience that tends to book during off-peak periods. You could also consider collaborating with local attractions and businesses to create comprehensive and enticing packages. For example, if you are a hotelier, consider partnering with a local restaurant to develop a package for shoulder season travelers.
Leverage Email Marketing
With a well-curated email list, reach out to past customers who have shown interest in shoulder season travel. By segmenting the email list based on preferences, demographics, or past booking patterns, travel and tourism businesses can personalize their messages and offer targeted promotions, exclusive discounts, or customized packages that align with the interests of each segment.
Regularly sending informative and engaging emails that highlight the unique attractions and experiences available during the shoulder season keeps your business and your destination top of mind. Additionally, incorporating visually appealing content, storytelling elements, and clear calls-to-action in the emails can effectively nurture customer relationships, build anticipation, and increase bookings.
Marketing Strategies for Low Seasons
In low seasons, it can be tempting just to lean on discounts to generate more bookings. However, there are some other marketing strategies you could implement that go beyond offering discounts:
Focus on Domestic Tourism
During the off-season, with fewer international travelers visiting your destination, it’s a great opportunity to focus on promoting your business to domestic tourists. The pandemic has shifted the dynamics of domestic tourism, with people realizing the untapped potential of exploring their own backyard. Take advantage of this by offering special incentives and discounts to locals, such as weekday and weekend prices or exclusive locals-only discounts.
Additionally, highlight unique and lesser-known activities that might pique the interest of locals who have already visited the main tourist sites. Organizing local community events, collaborating with non-profits, or running charity campaigns can further increase your brand visibility and attract potential guests from your nearby communities. Building a loyal domestic customer base during the off-season not only generates positive word-of-mouth marketing but also increases the chances of repeat business and recommendations to seasonal guests.
Offer Customer Loyalty Programs
Another market you may want to tap into during your low season is past customers as they are more likely to be enticed by a customer loyalty program. By implementing a loyalty program, travel and tourism operators can incentivize repeat business and foster long-term relationships with their customers. Some ideas for creating customer loyalty programs include:
- Create a tiered system: rewards customers based on their frequency of bookings or total spending.
- Offer exclusive perks: this includes discounted rates, room upgrades, or complimentary experiences.
- Communicate the benefits of the loyalty program: benefits can be communicated through targeted email marketing campaigns, social media posts, and website banners. Encourage customers to enroll in the program during the low season by highlighting the advantages of being part of an exclusive community and receiving special treatment.
This strategy not only helps increase customer retention during the off-season but also establishes a strong foundation for future business growth.
Leveraging Digital Marketing to Attract Travelers During All Seasons
To ensure a consistent flow of customers throughout all seasons, it’s also important to invest always-on marketing channels such as:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – maintaining an optimize website is crucial for organic visibility. Focus on creating an SEO strategy that involves keyword optimization, publishing high-quality content, and prioritizes a user-friendly experience.
- Google Search Ads – running a year-round Google Search Ads campaign ensures your brand remains top of mind to users actively searching for travel-related information and services, especially when you aren’t ranking well organically.
- Organic Social Media – to effectively leverage the power of social media, you need to be posting engaging and relevant content year-round. Develop a year-round organic social media strategy that focuses on engaging with potential customers, sharing compelling content, and (sometimes) promoting special offers or packages.
At Ontario SEO, we have helped many travel and tourism operators address the challenges of seasonality. Contact us today to discover how our comprehensive digital marketing services can support your business through every season.